Call for a rethink on ‘safe route’ to school
AMUM whose husband tragically died in a road accident has made an emotional plea to the council to rethink its safe routes to school policy.
Francesca Wharton, who lives in Bollington and has three children at Tytherington School, knows better than anyone how important road safety is.
Her husband Guy – a science teacher at the school – died when he was in a collision with a car as he rode his bike on the Cat and Fiddle in June.
Francesca says the council’s decision to remove a free bus service and ask children to walk from Bollington to Tytherington will result in many youngsters crossing the Silk Road, which she believes is too dangerous.
The council has declared the Middlewood Way - a bridle path which runs from Bollington to Tytherington - as a ‘safe route’ for children to walk to school.
But Francesca fears no matter how safe they make it, many children will avoid the Middlewood Way and cross the Silk Road instead.
She said: “The most direct route for many children in Bollington is straight down the main road and across the dual carriageway where cars are coming along at 70mph. It’s really dangerous, cars are swinging around so fast.”
She added: “Just last week another cyclist [was in an accident] on the roundabout on the Silk Road and Guy had an accident there in March - the same roundabout the council is expecting our children to cross at to get to school. I’ve also been told children under 14 have a lower perception of speed and distance, which is even more worrying.”
Francesca says the safety of the Silk Road should be factored into the council’s decision.
She said: “Kids are going to go the quickest route they can. The entrance to the Middelwood Way would mean a lot of children doubling back on themselves, it doubles the time from 35 minutes to more than an hour, no one is going to do that twice a day.”
A council spokesman agreed that the route across the Silk Road is not suitable, but claimed that the Middlewood Way is the shorter route for children walking from the centre of the town. He said: “The route across Silk Road, in Bollington has been assessed as an ‘unavailable’ walking route. It is a shorter route to walk via Middlewood Way to Tytherington School, from Bollington village centre, than it is from Silk Road.”
He added there are no plans to install crossings on the Silk Road.
The campaign to save the school bus has been backed by members of the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee, who made recommendations to Cabinet to improve street lighting along the Middlewood Way before scrapping the bus. The council has since installed three CCTV cameras along the route as an information gathering exercise. The council spokesman said the data is currently being analysed and will be available shortly before October 18, when the Cabinet will meet to decide the fate of the buses. He said: “The data from the cameras located on Middlewood Way is currently being analysed and is not yet available to the public.
“It will show how many pedestrians and cyclists used the route for the fiveday period starting on September 12.”
●● Guy Francesca Wharton (inset with husband Guy) is worried the axing of school bus service would result in pupils crossing the Silk Road